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DID YOU READ

“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” reviewed

“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the New Orleans Film Festival.

What Stan Lee‘s comics lacked in subtlety, they made up for in sheer exuberance. The same could be said for the new documentary about Lee’s life, “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” which shares its subject’s gregarious personality and quickness to dismiss controversy. Hardships are addressed but never permitted to dwell in our minds long enough to detract from the bouncy, colorful ride.

Though there are dozens of other interview subjects, from historians to contemporaries to adoring fans (including Paris Hilton, of all people), Lee’s first person recollections provide the spine of the film. If the origins of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Hulk sound familiar after innumerable repetitions on DVD supplements, at least their presentation looks fresh and vibrant, thanks to beautifully animated renderings of classic Marvel artwork by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and more. The most interesting material is the less well-known stuff; Lee’s wartime recollections and his adorably feisty relationship with his longtime wife Joan, who talks like a character from a Howard Hawks screwball comedy. Joan brags that we have her to thank for all of Lee’s creations; she liked to spend Stan’s money, which meant Stan had to keep dreaming up exciting new characters to keep the creditors at bay. On behalf of comics nerds everywhere, Joan: thank you. Someone should give you and your husband a reality show where you bicker about your finances and occasionally dance to swing music.

Made in association with Lee’s production company POW! Entertainment, “With Great Power,” is not exactly a hard-hitting expose. In making their film, directors Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes, and Will Hess appear to have sacrificed depth for access. Lee’s voice permeates every frame, but it’s the same voice we know as the narrator of cartoons or the goofball who loves to cameo in Marvel movies; if there’s a guy beneath that exterior, he’s nowhere to be found here. His frayed relationship with Kirby is acknowledged and quickly blamed on an errant newspaper article and the worst details of his disastrous entrance into the dot com boom, Stan Lee Media, are covered in a single title card. The frustrating lack of information on less savory topics feels worthy of a No-Prize, but it also suggests something about the rose-colored lenses Lee sees the world through. I guess that’s why he’s always wearing those sunglasses.

So a bit less hagiography would have been nice, and the chronology of events is occasionally wonky (for example, Lee appears to create the Marvel fan club, the MMMS, before he invents the Fantastic Four). But True Believers like myself will be entertained by eighty minutes of gorgeous art and witty anecdotes. The film doesn’t have great power, but maybe it wasn’t its responsibility to do so.

“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” is playing film festivals around the country and currently seeking domestic distribution. If you see it, let us know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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